International Family Remembrance Week

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International Family Remembrance Week was launched as an initiative of Origins SPSA Inc on the 14th November 2011, with the following objectives in mind:


v    To bring public awareness of the commonalities and differences among and between groups which have and continue to suffer because of population policies of 20th century Australian governments:

     The Stolen Generations

    The Forgotten Australians

    Australians Separated by Forced Adoption


Forgotten Australians

This group includes indigenous and non-indigenous newborns who were rejected as “unadoptable”, consequently spending time in State / other institutions, and indigenous and non-indigenous unmarried mothers who spent time in maternity homes as minors.


A distinction especially needs to be made between the Stolen Generations and Australians Separated by Forced Adoption (AASW), in view of opinions popularized in media circa 2010 regarding the Rudd Government Apology to the Stolen Generations as wrongly exclusive of “whites”. 


Stolen Generations

Members under this umbrella also identify as Australian indigenous who were subjected to an official assimilation policy of the Commonwealth Government, which led to the separation of their family members. They also identify as people who suffered the extinction and segregation of their families and family members.


Australians Separated by Forced Adoption (ASFA)

This group includes mostly unmarried indigenous and non-indigenous parents who were separated from their children at birth (but also those who conceived outside of an existing marital relationship), who were subjected to an official rehabilitation policy of the Commonwealth Government. Numerous examples of both the assimilation and rehabilitation policies have been provided in timelines prepared by Origins SPSA Inc and submitted to the current Inquiry into forced adoption. 


v    To bring reconciliation between families separated by adoption whether forced, open or closed (both natural and adoptive families); therefore

    To bring public awareness of the separation policies of 20th century Australian governments.


v    To increase public awareness of the ongoing impact of both closed and open domestic adoption, on children and their families of origin:

     mental-health (see Dr. Rickarby’s submission to the NSW parliamentary inquiry[1])

       including identity issues (both child and parents) due to shaming / secrecy / taboos around the origins of the child and its conception (this is a risk factor in general and not only through the institution of adoption).


v    To increase public awareness of the ongoing impact of intercountry adoption:

    to expose child trafficking from countries such as Cambodia, and South Korea[2] where Origins committee works with affiliates[3] in exposing conditions similar to those which ‘unmarried’ Australian mothers experienced circa 1940s – 1980s;

    to advocate for family preservation and protection of mothers by counteracting the current National Adoption Awareness Week campaign in its association with the importation of American-style adoption;

    to suggest alternatives to intercountry adoption.


v    To advance law and social policy in the direction of family preservation and guardianship models:

    to raise the status of unsupported Australian mothers and fathers, in family, community and society;

    to advocate for early intervention programs to deal with children at risk of losing their families to adoption through the fostercare system;

    to participate in law reform advocacy, advancing the concept of the parent as guardian of the rights of the child (as outlined in the Geneva Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in human rights covenants to which Australia is signatory).


The committee of Origins SPSA Inc believes that the Family Remembrance initiative is unique in its pro-family message of hope and reconciliation, as pro-family organizations are typically aligned with a pro-adoption message consisting also in an apologetics perspective on past forced adoption practices.


The Family Remembrance symbol of the first international, pro-family initiative not associated with forced adoption apologetics, has been chosen to signify origins and their vitality not only through knowledge but also honour of the parent as guardian of human rights. Adoption in its legal severance of filiation in effect denies knowledge of and prevents access to the 'limbs' of the Tree. The Convention on the Rights of the Child regards identity thus:


Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity. (Article 8)


Identity theft is a breach of common law and yet adoption is seen to be doing that legally; again, it is not enough for children to know their origins but also to be protected against those who would remove their honour, degrading and demeaning them in order to justify permanent separation of children from their families through the legal institution of adoption. Adoption in its legal severance of filiation too often implies denial of hope in those whom the Tree represents.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also maintains that in nations protected by its ratification, as Australia is, that:


No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12)


We also of Origins appreciate that problems of identity are not confined to past adoption practices but are inherent facets of adoption per se, despite claims of openness in new models. Open adoptions are sheer hell for mothers[4], as the vast majority of them close in a short time and such mothers must stand helplessly by and witness the manipulation and abuse of their children. We also acknowledge that many continue to suffer as a result of the ongoing impact of puritanical and eugenic ideas behind adoption and abortion policies as directed at the offspring of unsupported mothers.


Openness in the best interests of children too often means permanent stigmatization for past actions or problems common to humanity – problems that require only ordinary assistance to resolve.  Examples of reasons for the promotion of adoption in the US – revealing adoption as a means to provide a permanent solution to a temporary problem – include:


    immaturity of the mother

    age of the mother

    mental-health of the mother

    intellectual disability of the mother

    relative poverty of the mother

    absent partner of the mother

    violent father of the child

    mother’s conception through rape


We believe our voice representative of Australians separated by forced adoption, is essential to balance the campaign launched by Deborah-lee Furness’ organization, National Adoption Awareness Week, as Furness espouses American-style adoption by which the prospective adoptive parents are permitted even to groom[5] the mother and attend the birth of her child.[6][7]  The adoption of Oscar has set Furness and Jackman in an opposite direction to current Australian social policy as it pushes ahead with early intervention and family preservation emphasis.  The NAAW campaign has received eight million in funding from one benefactor alone, while the Women’s Weekly is set to create a demand for children to adopt, similar to what Australians witnessed circa 1953.[8]


Australians separated by forced adoption have already been hurt by US policies brought to their shores in 1953 when the Commonwealth government – by implication of its misappropriation of social policy to the Australian Association of Social Workers – officially adopted a rehabilitation policy (rehabilitation of unwed mothers) via Miss Margaret Thornhill of the US. This policy was associated with a then undergoing, US experiment which took ten years to complete and was referenced by Dian Wellfare when she cited the now infamous prediction of Clark Vincent in1961:


If the demand for adoptable babies continues to exceed the supply…then it is quite possible that, in the near future, unwed mothers will be "punished" by having their children taken from them right after birth. A policy like this would not be executed - nor labeled explicitly as "punishment." Rather, it would be implemented through such pressures and labels as "scientific findings," "the best interests of the child," "rehabilitation of the unwed mother," and "the stability of the family and society.


Already Furness has provoked widespread indignation among the groups we represent – in using the media to convey a false message about Australians impacted by 20th century population policies. Just last week Furness told journalists on prime time TV, ‘in the past four years people have been allowed to have a voice…to heal and move on…’[9] Was Furness referring mainly to Australians separated by forced adoption – those who had their children removed without a court intervention and who were then told to go and “get on with your life…”?  As Jack Thompson is the ambassador of National Adoption Awareness Week – and also the presenter for the program “Find My Family” – that appears to be the case.


Today in Australia there is a current campaign to promote adoption as an institution transformed by openness.  This campaign taken up by NAAW supporters clearly seeks to place the lessons of population policies of 20th century Australia in the “past”, in referring to “shame, social stigma” etc.  These problems are not past at all, as Origins Australia knows only too well. 


The rights of children should never include that their parents provide for them to ‘participate fully in family, cultural and social life…’[10] To suggest otherwise is another form of shaming and blaming those disadvantaged through no fault of their own. 


Food and clothing are human entitlements, not optional extras, which it is incumbent upon families, communities, nations and the UN to provide when required. We know that in the context of intercountry adoption, the latter statement of National Adoption Awareness Week organizers pits a multi-billion dollar adoption industry against the poor who often have no choice but to place their children in the care of unscrupulous agencies.  We advocate that the money saved on bringing just one such ‘orphan’ to Australia would be far better spent on feeding a whole orphanage of children thereby helping them to remain with the people of their origins.




Committee of Origins SPSA Inc











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